Smarter Cities Palermo – days 8-12

It’s funny how 3 weeks away from your day job seems like such an eternity to manage but 3 weeks on a project seems like a really short period of time! So week 2 arrived and it was time to divide and conquer.

We still had many meetings to do but we also needed to organise our thoughts and get some structure in place. Design thinking principles, SWOT analyses, workflows, a stack of post-it notes enabled us to synthesize the data we had and come up with a structure to move us forward.


We met three amazing women from the International Organisation for Migrants, part of the UN. The stories about sex trafficking were truly harrowing.  At the opposite end of the spectrum we also met a fabulous Italian entrepreneur who has her own fashion business based in Palermo.

I was also privileged to be able to visit Teatro Massimo on Thursday. It’s the 3rd biggest opera house in Europe and has a stage over 50 metres deep. But more impressive to me was the work they do in social inclusion. The superintendent told us about their ‘opera truck’ that they use to take opera around the city, to the masses – and how they took it one day to a tough neighbourhood called Zen. Initially they were performing to no one, but slowly the kids started to appear and then the mothers with their babies…. and finally the men. And how for those few hours of performance the police reported back that criminality stopped.  Amongst other things, they have a Rainbow Choir made up from kids from all walks of life and do concerts for pregnant women to introduce their babies to music.

Gelato and speed walks completed week 2 of being in the ‘City with a soul’.


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